National Security Minister Stuart Young says only the courts can order an offender to wear an electronic monitoring device.
Young made the comment yesterday in response to calls by co-founder of the Operation Global Sex Offender Registry Jonathon Bhagan and children’s rights activist Dianna Mahabir-Wyatt for child sex predators to be fitted with bracelets so they could be tracked while out on bail. Their calls came on the heels of four men appearing before the courts on various sexual offences involving children. Noting most sexual predators were repeat offenders, they argued that bracelets could at least allow the police to track their whereabouts.
Commenting on the calls by the activists, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi told Guardian Media during a telephone interview on Thursday that the “rule of law” was already in place and the Electronic Monitoring Unit had already been set up under the Ministry of National Security. This was also confirmed by Young when contacted by Guardian Media yesterday.
“I have said this repeatedly, the unit is ready and operational. Staff and equipment in place. It is up to the courts to make the orders,” Young said.
Guardian Media has sent several questions to the Judiciary on whether or not court orders have been made for offenders to use the devices. However, up to press time we received no response.
In 2012, the law allowing for the introduction of electronic monitoring devices into the criminal justice system was passed. A subsequent amendment to the law, referred to as the Administration of Justice (Electronic Monitoring) (Amendment) Bill 2020, was made last year. This introduced a clause mandating that the offender compensate the state for any device that is damaged while in use.
During the debate last May, Young told the Upper House that it costs $1.4 million for a batch of 150 and $1 million for 100 devices. The minister also noted at the time that Amalgamated Security had teamed up with Israeli firm Attenti to win a tender, which he assured was properly conducted by iGovTT, to purchase the devices, software and technical support.
The unit is currently manned by staff of the National Security Ministry with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service providing enforcement.